May brings more sunshine and rain

KIMBALL, Neb. – Following several days of sunshine and warmth, a slow-moving weather system brought additional cool temperatures, overcast skies, fog, rain and thunderstorms to the tri-state region as it passed through over the weekend.

Rainfall totals from the system averaged about one-half inch across the Panhandle and the moisture was welcome.

Although temperatures were slightly cooler during the front’s passage, they remained warm enough so springtime grass and crop growth were not impeded.

The moisture did idle most cultivation activity, leaving many producers impatiently waiting to finish spring fieldwork and planting.

Well managed pastures and rangeland are in the midst of cool-season grass growth and are looking quite green and productive.

Regional Forecast and Conditions

As of Tuesday morning, the temperature at sunrise was 42 degrees. Sky conditions were clear. A light westerly wind was sustained at 6 mph. The barometer was rising at 30.18 inches of mercury (in/Hg). The day was expected to be warm and sunny with a 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms, with winds expected to remain westerly at 5-10 mph. Air temperatures were expected to peak at 70 degrees before falling to an overnight low of 43 degrees. Wednesday and Thursday were expected to be similar with an increased chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Weather today (Friday) is expected to be partly sunny with a 60 percent chance of afternoon rain showers. The temperature is expected to peak at 70 before falling off to 42 degrees overnight. Saturday and Sunday are expected to be cooler and breezy with a 60 percent chance of rain. Daytime highs should range in the 50’s with overnight lows falling into the low 40’s.

Monday through Wednesday are expected to be warmer and mostly sunny, with daytime air temperatures ranging in the 70’s and overnight lows in the 40’s. A 20-40 percent chance of rain showers is forecast for the period, including an elevated chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Air temperatures warmed again across the region last week. At 13 selected stations across the Panhandle 24-hour temperatures averaged 56.9 degrees. At Kimball the May 8-14 daytime high averaged 68.71 degrees, about 2 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly high temperature was 86 degrees on May 10. Overnight lows warmed also, averaging 44.42 degrees at Kimball, about 2 degrees warmer than the previous week. The weekly low temperature was 41 degrees on May 9. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 56.57 degrees, about 2 degrees warmer than the previous week, and about 1.5 degrees warmer than the May average of 55.0 degrees. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for May are 69.3 and 40.7, respectively.

Twelve of 13 selected Panhandle stations reported rain while Lodgepole 8N also reported a trace of snow over the May 8-14 period. Rainfall totals ranged from 1.45 inches at Alliance to 0.19 inches at Big Springs. Hemingford reported zero precipitation for the week. Across the Panhandle snowfall averaged zero inches and rainfall averaged 0.51 inches. Last week’s averages were zero inches and 0.87 inches respectively.
Soil temperatures warmed nicely across the Panhandle over the May 8-14 period: (this week/last week/change): Alliance 57.5/54.2 (+3.3) degrees; Gordon 59.8/56.5 (+3.3) degrees; Mitchell 58.1/53.4 (+4.7) degrees; Scottsbluff 59.7/54.8 (+5.1); and Sidney 61.1/55.3 (+5.8) degrees.

Winds near Kimball averaged west-southwesterly and generally light -- except for those produced by thunderstorm activity -- over the May 8-14 period. Gusts for the week averaged 28.42 mph. High gust for the week was 52 mph on May 10.

Weather Almanac

Here’s an overview of May 18 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 125 years at Kimball. Data is taken from the High Plains Regional Climate Center (, where you can easily find and track data for your own particular location.

Last year (May 18, 2017): Daily high temperature 64 degrees, overnight low 42 degrees, average temperature 53.0 degrees. Precipitation 1.50 inches, snowfall 1.0 inches, snow depth zero inches.

The warmest May 18 on record was 97 degrees in 1934. The coolest May 18 high temperature was 40 degrees in 1983. The coldest May 18 overnight low was 28 degrees in 1930. The warmest May 18 overnight low was 55 degrees in 1964. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on May 18 has averaged 68 degrees, the overnight low 42 degrees, the daily average 55.0 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.08 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.

The highest May 18 precipitation total was 1.50 inches liquid equivalent (rain/snow mix) in 2017. The greatest snowfall was 6.0 inches in 1983. Greatest snow depth was 2.0 inches in 1983.

Snow has fallen on May 18 at Kimball 2 times over the last 125 years, with quantities of 6.0 inches (1983) and 1.0 inches (2017).

U.S. Drought Monitor

National Summary: This week saw scattered showers and thunderstorms across portions of the South, southern and central Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. This week’s storm activity led to targeted improvements in drought-related conditions in portions of Texas, Kansas, Iowa and Florida, while conditions deteriorated in parts of the Desert Southwest, northern Plains and the Midwest.

Average temperatures across most of the United States for the week were well above normal including some recording-breaking heat last week in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where temperatures soared into the 90s.

In the southern and central Plains, concerns continue with regard to the condition of the winter wheat crop, with the USDA reporting 50 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop in poor to very poor condition. Oklahoma and Texas are worse off at 68 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

In the Southwest, a very dry winter and spring season are taking a toll on the vegetation with the USDA reporting 95 percent of Arizona pasture and rangeland in poor to very poor condition with New Mexico at 60 percent.

High Plains: On this week’s map, locally heavy rains (3-to-5 inches) impacted isolated areas of northeastern Kansas leading to reduction in areas of Moderate Drought (D1).

Short-term precipitation deficits during the past 30 to 60 days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in eastern North Dakota where local pastures are in need of rainfall and some cattle producers are running low on feed. According to the May 7 USDA report, pasture and range conditions were reported as 5 percent very poor and 22 percent poor.

In southeastern Nebraska and the eastern half of Kansas, dryness during the past 30 to 60 days has led to low streamflow especially in Kansas where many rivers and creeks are currently flowing well below normal levels.

For the week, the region was warm and dry (with the exception of portions of northeastern Kansas, northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming) with temperatures well above normal and maximum daily temperatures exceeding 80 degrees.

West: On this week’s map, areas of Extreme Drought (D3) expanded in north-central Arizona and central New Mexico. In north-central Arizona, precipitation for the current Water Year (October to present) is the driest on record or falling within the bottom tenth percentile. Looking at statewide precipitation rankings, Arizona experienced its third driest October-through-April period on record while New Mexico had its tenth driest.

Elsewhere in the region, areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) expanded in southwestern Colorado where precipitation totals for the current Water Year at a number of NRCS SNOTEL stations (in the San Juan Mountains) are at record low levels with well below normal runoff forecasted.

Overall, the West was hot and dry during the past week – with some light shower activity (generally less than 1 inch) observed in the Intermountain West, central and northern Rockies, and portions of the Pacific Northwest. Average temperatures were well above normal in the northern half of the region while the southern half was near normal. 

U.S. Conditions and Weather Report

Across the southern half of the country, mostly dry weather accompanied substantially above-normal temperatures. In drought-affected areas, such as the southern High Plains and the Southwest, the hot, dry weather maintained significant stress on rangeland, pastures, maturing winter wheat and emerging summer crops.

Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees above normal from the Four Corners States into the lower Ohio Valley, with local averages more than 15 degrees above normal on the southern High Plains. Warm, mostly dry weather favored Southeastern fieldwork and crop development as well.

In contrast, frequent showers covered the northern half of the U.S., especially from the northern Rockies to the northern Mid-Atlantic States. Weekly rainfall totaled 1 to 3 inches or more in a strip across the northern Corn Belt, curtailing fieldwork and causing local flooding. In the southern Corn Belt, however, conditions were sufficiently warm and dry to promote planting activities and summer crop emergence and growth.

Late in the week, cool air settled across the nation’s northern tier, resulting in freezes from North Dakota to northern New England.

Western U.S. water supply forecast

La Niña faded to ENSO-neutral conditions during the spring, although lingering impacts were noted in Western snowpack and runoff forecasts. Consistent with La Niña, snowpack and cold season precipitation was abundant across the northern tier of the West and deficient farther south. Late-winter precipitation improved snowpack and water supply prospects in the Sierra Nevada and several other areas across the middle one-third of the West but did not allow for complete recovery from dryness in preceding months.

During the first half of May, warmth continued in the Southwest and spread into the Northwest. In the former region, late spring heat resulted in further drought intensification. In the Northwest, May warmth led to melting of high-elevation snowpack, swift-flowing streams and rivers, and local flooding.

Snowpack and Precipitation

As of May 13, river basins in Oregon, southern Idaho, and across the southern half of the West had subpar snowpack. Meager snowpack had already melted in much of the Southwest. Although late winter storms improved snowpack across the middle one-third of the West, recent warmth caused considerable melting. In the Northwest, where snowpack was more impressive, May warmth has led to local flooding. Even with the May warmth and melting, above-normal snowpack for this time of year covered the northern tier of the West.

Season-to-date precipitation (Oct. 1, 2017 – May 13, 2018) was slightly more impressive than snowpack, in part due to early- and mid-winter warmth limiting accumulation of high-elevation snowpack. Still, precipitation was less than 50 percent of normal in many Southwestern basins, and less than 90 percent of normal in all of the West except Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming, as well as much of northern Oregon and the Sierra Nevada.

Spring and Summer Streamflow Forecasts

As of May 1, projections for spring and summer streamflow were indicating the likelihood of near- or above-normal runoff in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. In other parts of the Northwest, including southern and eastern Oregon, a lack of snow has reduced runoff potential. Meanwhile, the Southwest received sub-par winter precipitation, leading to forecasts of poor spring and summer runoff—less than 25 percent of the normal volume in several river basins.

Reservoir Storage

As of May 1, reservoir storage as a percent of average for the date was substantially below average in Arizona and New Mexico. Cumulative storage for this time of year was near or above average in all other Western States, except Washington. In several states, including Utah, reservoir storage continues to reflect bounteous runoff in the spring and summer of 2017. 

Weather and Crop Reports


Hot and dry conditions accelerated fieldwork and planting activities last week. Precipitation late last week was mostly confined to northern and some eastern counties.

Northeastern county reporters observed damaging hail and isolated heavy rainfall, although moisture continued to improve dryland crop and rangeland conditions.

In east central counties, those who haven’t received moisture noted the winter wheat was severely stressed. High winds were also reported.

Southwestern counties missed out on precipitation last week, and reporters noted conditions worsened.

In Archuleta and La Plata counties, irrigation water was already shut off with reports of crop losses. Livestock producers continued to sell off due to drought. High winds and extreme fire danger were also reported.

In the San Luis Valley, no moisture was received and pastures were noted to be slow-growing. Hay supplies continued to shorten and producers were feeding longer than expected. Fall potato planting really picked up last week and the majority of small grains planting was complete.

In southeastern counties, wheat aphid infestations were reported to be severe in areas, with producers swathing some wheat for forage in response.

Statewide, calving and lambing were mostly complete. As of May 14, 2018, snowpack in Colorado was 46 percent measured as percent of median snowfall. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 7 and 1 percent, respectively.

Stored feed supplies were rated 9 percent very short, 20 percent short, 70 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Sheep death loss was 51 percent average and 49 percent light. Cattle death loss was 81 percent average and 19 percent light.


For the week ending May 13, 2018, there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 22 short, 71 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 25 short, 70 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Corn planted was 72 percent, near 74 last year and 70 for the five-year average. Emerged was 26 percent, near 28 last year and 25 average.

Soybeans planted was 41 percent, ahead of 34 last year and 29 average. Emerged was 5 percent, near 3 last year and 2 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 29 fair, 54 good, and 10 excellent. Winter wheat headed was 1 percent, well behind 28 last year, and behind 15 average.

Sorghum planted was 17 percent, near 13 last year and 14 average.

Oats planted was 88 percent, behind 98 last year and 96 average. Emerged was 71 percent, well behind 92 last year, and behind 83 average.

Pasture and range conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 9 poor, 38 fair, 47 good, and
3 excellent.


Wyoming experienced above normal temperatures for the week. Twenty-eight of the 34 reporting stations reported above average temperatures for the week with the high temperature of 85 degrees recorded at Torrington and Wheatland and a low of 26 degrees at Yellowstone.

Above normal moisture was reported at 22 of the 34 reporting stations with one station (Evanston) reporting no precipitation. Lander reported the most moisture with 1.99 inches.

A reporter from Northwestern Wyoming indicated that crops are behind this year.

A reporter from Western Wyoming stated that they got moisture this past week which helped green up the rangeland.

A reporter from Southwestern Wyoming reported that they got a lot of rain but not enough to improve the dry conditions.

A reporter from South Central Wyoming indicated that the weather has been cool and cloudy with some moisture but not enough. They also stated that unless they get some moisture it will be a short growing season.

Irrigation water supply across Wyoming was rated 4 percent fair and 96 percent good. Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 2 percent very short, 9 percent short, and 89 percent adequate.

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